Before the Sun Asserts Itself in the Sky

On Saturday morning, a man walks out of a bagel shop holding a small brown bag.

It’s early still. The sun hasn’t even asserted itself in the sky.

There isn’t anything exceptional about the man. Brown hair, mid-40s, jeans. He could be a chef or a war correspondent or in construction. Who knows.

All you know is that this man crosses the sidewalk towards – well, you’re not sure what towards. Until you see him reach his hand out – the one holding the small brown bag – and release his hold on the bag so it falls into the hand of another man.

And you hadn’t even seen this other man. He is set back on the sidewalk. Is missing some teeth. At his feet is a black and red backpack that has, you’re pretty sure, his whole life stuffed into it.

The two men don’t say anything. There is a smile, a nod. Then the brown haired man goes back to the bagel shop. He might be a chef or a war correspondent or in construction. But it doesn’t matter what he does in the world. What matters is he has eyes that see people in the world.

The man with the black and red backpack is quietly eating a bagel from the small brown bag now. You look at him, a figure so full of hunger and dignity and pain.

And you understand that the things that go unseen are often the things that most need to be seen.

And later, when you find yourself thinking that one day isn’t enough to get anything real done, you will remember that all this can happen outside a bagel shop before the sun even asserts itself in the sky.

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